Web Addresses (URLs)

What is a URL?

A URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator and is probably most easily described as a "web address". "URL" and "web address" are often used interchangeably. Here are examples of URLs:

In these examples, "quackit.com" is the domain name.

What is a Domain Name?

A domain name is a unique name that is assigned to a website. No two websites on the Internet can use the same domain name. Because each domain name is unique, this enables anyone to access your website using the domain name. If you didn't have a domain name, the only way anyone could access your website is by using an IP address.

A website's IP address is also unique, but it's much harder to for us humans to remember than a domain name. Well technically speaking, websites on the same machines can (and often do) share an IP address, so IP addresses aren't actually as unique as they might wish they were!

Here's an example of an IP address:

The above IP address belongs to Google.com (at least, it did at the time of writing). If I type this IP address into my web browser, Google's homepage appears. If you get a blank page or error message, chances are that this IP address no longer resolves to a website.

How Does a Website Get a Domain Name?

Getting a domain name for a website is very easy. After deciding on your preferred domain name, you simply check for it's availability using a domain name registrar or hosting provider. Once you've found an available domain name, you register it online, then configure it to point to your website (which is also very easy).

Try searching for a domain name now with ZappyHost.

In most cases, you don't need to know about the inner workings of DNS when building a website. As mentioned, all you need to do is register your domain name and then point it at your website. You can usually do this via your domain name registrar/web host's control panel. In this case your web host will give you instructions of what to do.

Once you've done this, there are some tricks you can use with DNS to assist with your website development. The next lesson covers some of these tricks and explains how DNS works.